Last on Match of the Day Again
Date: Tuesday 19th September 2006The beer was in the belly, the sun was shining and the seat was perfect, being on the halfway line and halfway up. All that was needed now was a thrilling game of football. Unfortunately I was left with having to be content with a nice seat and being arm locked at halftime by Bench until I bought him a pie!! The game itself was neither entertaining or disappointing in the first half. There were no goals and few chances, but I did get to see some dazzling passing football by the infamous long ball, game ruining, team from the Premiership. Sorry if I missed something, but all I saw was good passing football. The reason for this was one Gary Speed, who I thought was nothing short of sensational all afternoon! Most people will point at Diouf when asked for their opinion of Man Of The Match, and he really was on his best form, but it was to simple breaking up of Middlesbrough’s midfield passing and accurate passing, both short and long, that stood Speed out through the game, as well as some excellent link up play with the also impressive Campo. I had hardly sat down when Nolan slipped in Anelka who, half expecting the keeper to bring him down found his touch to be to heavy as he tried to round the keeper. To his credit he stayed on his feet rather then try a Gerrard swallow dive! Due to a severe lack of attacking options from Middlesbrough’s right midfield Fortune was able to get forward a great deal in the first half, unfortunately he just seemed to be having one of those days that all players get, everything the lad tried failed to come off. I’m not slating him as I think he is a great player, I just felt that he failed to produce anything in the first half with the space he was given. Middlesbrough came back into the game halfway through the first half as Morrison drive in a shot that took a wicked deflection. From were I was sitting at least three people shouted “It’s in!” and to be honest I was inclined to totally agree, that was before Jussi somehow managed to change direction and get down to make an excellent left handed save. You only had to see the reaction from Morrison to know that he had thought he had scored. Meite didn’t have a great game, but still made an excellent interception from Yakubu’s pass just before the break to stop Morrison from breaking through on goal. Anelka started the second half as he started the first, breaking down the right and cutting inside before firing off a shot that went just over the crossbar. I thought our best chance of the second half came from Campo’s clever free kick that was taken early and caught everyone by surprise. Had it been on target it there was no way the keeper would have got there in time to save it. Then, from out of the blue midway through the second half someone behind me shouted “Come on Nolan ya lazt bxstard!!” I looked round in shock, as I thought we had been playing with ten men and Nolan had been sent off when I went for a pee! But low and behond there he was, in the centre of the pitch, shouting at the ref about something or other. The inevitable happened and Nolan was switched for Tal. We looked a lot more threatening, with Diouf providing some great link up play with Anelka and Vaz Te who had replaced Stelios. Tal made an instant impact, obviously thinking that getting a penalty in the Premiership was a piece of cake, and went down after a challenge from Davies. Had he taken a leaf out of Anelka’s book and stayed on his feet he could have easily have slipped the ball home. The game ended with Fortune (bless him) finishing off his day to forget with a horribly scuffed shot that could have won it for us in the dying seconds. It was disappointing for us not to win, or to see Anelka score his first goal, but it was far from a disappointing performance. Faye looked the defensive giant he looked like last season, and TBH adapted well on the right, with Campo and the vastly impressive Speed pulling the strings in the middle of the park and Diouf looking like the player we had on loan. Not to mention Anelka looking like he could be a really top signing once he’s fit. I can say that I left happy in the thought that we have Davies to return and Tal looking hungry for Nolan's place and Anelka with a point to prove.